Washington Rewards Creativity at Highlands

When you walk into Courtney Washington’s classroom at Highlands Elementary, don’t expect a lecture.

“We have lessons that reward our scholars for being the most creative,” said Washington, who teaches Fifth Grade Math and Science. “We have teams, and those teams are always random and different. The class is always lively.”

Washington is one of 11 finalists for Cedar Hill ISD STEM Teacher of the Year. She said the beauty of STEM involves scholars not having to get the answer correct the first time.

“You can make mistakes and learn from it,” Washington said. “I love watching the kids do that.”

Washington’s classroom labs include rocket ships, the solar system and ecosystems.

A former Valedictorian of Lobias Murray Christian Academy in Oak Cliff, Washington has always had a deep appreciation for STEM and problem solving.

“There’s a sense of gratification from seeing scholars realize that ‘a-ha’ moment,” Washington said. 

Washington earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Jarvis Christian University, a Historically Black College & University located in the East Texas city of Hawkins. She went on to earn an MBA at Texas A&M University-Texarkana.

Washington owned a health care-related billing company, where STEM-related problem solving was part of the daily routine.

She decided to become an educator, first at a private school in Dallas County. After applying to CHISD, she received opportunities at several campuses but chose Highlands.

The STEM Teacher of the Year will be announced on Thursday, April 20. It includes a $10,000 prize - $5,000 for the campus and $5,000 for the teacher personally.

Washington said she’d put the $5,000 to ensure every classroom at Highlands has an efficient STEM Program. The other $5,000 would go toward a down payment on a home.